Some of the most significant quotes in the opening chapters describe the characters and hint at how they will contribute to life on the island.
The fat boy waited to be asked his name in turn but this proffer of acquaintance was not made; the fair boy called Ralph smiled vaguely, stood up, and began to make his way once more towards the lagoon. The fat boy hung steadily at
This quote, describing Ralph's rather dismissive attitude towards Piggy, hints at how Piggy remains loyal to Ralph even when Ralph treats him badly. Later on in this opening chapter, for example, Ralph goes against his word and tells the other children Piggy's nickname, but still Piggy remains at his side. Part of the reason could be that Piggy knows, "as the fat boy," he needs someone fit and healthy like Ralph near him to survive on the island.
The small boy squatted in front of Ralph, looking up brightly and vertically. As he received the reassurance of something purposeful being done he began to look satisfied, and his only clean digit, a pink thumb, slid into his mouth.
The boys in this passage, with his thumb in his mouth, is merely a young child. Perhaps younger than his age. He needs a strong leader, an adult figure, to create a life that resembles the sort of hierarchy he understands and feels safe in. Note that when they lose that structure, the boys, led by Jack, fall into anarchy.
Inside the floating cloak he was tall, thin, and bony: and his hair was red beneath the black cap. His face was crumpled and freckled, and ugly without silliness. Out of this face stared two light blue eyes, frustrated now, and turning, or ready to turn, to anger.
This quote describes Jack. From his bony features to his angry disposition, it marks him out as the potential antagonist of the story.
Jack’s in charge of the choir. They can be—what do you want them to be?
These words, spoken by Ralph, show him as a fair democratic leader, but also as a naïve child. Ralph is giving free reign to someone who has shown himself to be a potential danger to the group's wellbeing.
1. In chapter 1, Ralph and Piggy retrieve the conch from the lagoon, and Ralph blows into it, calling all the boys to the platform. After the boys arrive and assemble on the platform, Roger suggests that they vote for a chief, and Ralph receives the most votes. Golding begins to establish the conch as a significant symbol by writing,
"But there was a stillness about Ralph as he sat that marked him out: there was his size, and attractive appearance; and most obscurely, yet most powerfully, there was the conch. The being that had blown that, had sat waiting for them on the platform with the delicate thing balanced on his knees, was set apart" (16).
2. In chapter 2, Ralph holds an assembly in an attempt to organize a civil society and explain to the boys that they are stranded on an uninhabited island. During the assembly, a littlun with a mulberry-colored birthmark takes the conch and tells Piggy that he saw a snake-thing. Golding establishes a conflict as Piggy relays the littlun's message. Piggy says,
"He says the beastie came in the dark...He still says he saw the beastie. It came and went away again an' came back and wanted to eat him--" (27).
3. In chapter 3, Ralph and Simon take a break from working on the third shelter, and Ralph begins to lament about the fact that the majority of boys are not helping build the shelters. When Jack returns from hunting, Ralph openly complains about the lack of help, which upsets Jack. Jack simply responds to Ralph's complaints by saying,
"We want meat" (Golding, 39).
Jack's comment is significant because it illustrates his main concern and emphasizes the ideological differences between him and Ralph.
Here are a few suggestions:
Chapter 1, when Ralph is being described:
You could see now that he might make a boxer, as far as width and heaviness of shoulders went, but there was a madness about his mouth and eyes that proclaimed no devil.
This foreshadows that Ralph is basically good at heart. There is no sign of the devil about him. From what we know happens in the rest of the novel, this will turn out to be a prophetic description. I don’t want to give away the story, if you have not finished it – so you will have to trust me on this one. This is an important quote.
In chapter 2, the boys are collect leaves, twigs and sticks to build a rescue fire on the mountain. After they collect piles of stuff, they soon realize they don’t know how to start the fire. A fire is symbolic of civilization and the boys will become less and less civilized as the novel progresses. They are going to do things that are shameful and that require “confession”:
“Ralph and Jack looked at each other while society paused about them. The shameful knowledge grew in them and they did not know how to begin confession.”
In chapter 3, there is a paragraph that describes Jack as he begins to hunt for food – if you did not know it was describing a human, it would sound as if it were an animal. You could choose any of the sentences from this paragraph, but one in particular:
“Jack himself shrank at this cry with a hiss of indrawn breath, and for a minute became less a hunter than a furtive thing, ape-like among the tangle of trees.”
The imagery is pretty powerful and we see Jack as a hunter/animal, which will also prove to be true as the novel progresses.
Read about it here on eNotes.